Mr. R. Brunne of Heckmondwike in the West Riding (1937 Wildebeeste Tropical) writes: "Did Hurley-Pugh ever produce any variants to the standard two-and-a-half-speed touring gearbox? Though the Wildebeeste Grand Tour and its export versions like the Tropical, Sub-Tropical and Warm Temperate were veritable behemoths of torque, it always struck me that a slightly wider range of gearing would have been an advantage on faster roads, or in Observed Trials."
Unless you count the works racing four-speed gearbox, then the standard gearbox is all we now have, though it's easy enough to alter the gear ratios to suit your particular riding style - write in for my pamphlet "Tune Your Riding The Brown Overall Way", price £47 8s 4d, to H-PEC Members. But it's a crying shame the Hurley-Pugh 37-Speed Adjustable Gearbox never reached production. This had 36 different gear ratios, and it was a matter of a mere day's work for the owner to reconfigure the box himself to use any 3 or 4 or 5 or 6 of them. A cleverer or more innovative design has never been invented, to my mind, especially as the gears were all in the same box, and meshed - it was just the selector mechanism which needed reconfiguring from a small kit. The only problem was confined to the mechanically inept owner, as the prototype had 258 components in the kit, 236 of which looked nearly identical to the untrained eye but weren't. It was sadly all too easy for the cack-handed to set the box up so gear shifting went 2-Neutral-4-3-5-1 (for example), with predictable results.
Mrs. Persephone Mainhard of Egham writes (on behalf of her husband - 1935 Excalibur Manxman Brooklands Clubman Economy): "I am writing this letter because my husband has broken his arms in 19 places following a slight accident when his brakes appeared to lock up on a dry road in perfect riding conditions, pitching him into the back of a bright yellow ice-cream van. The insurance loss adjusters would like a little more information about the brake design to see if there might be any mitigating circumstance."
My Dear Madame, It sounds to me like your husband's Excalibur has never been fitted with Torque Arm Regulators to the Double-De-Braked Twin Leading Brake Shoes on the 1934-1936 range, which were retained in the "safe" retracted position until first pressure flipped them onto the Hurley-Pugh (Patent) "Torquemadic" Activating Cams. This used the torque arm reaction to multiply braking effort, an elegantly proportional power-brake system - except at speeds above 35-40 mph, when it was so effective that excess pressure on brake levers resulted in both wheels locking solid and, due to the nature of the mechanism, staying like that until the bike was stopped and allowed to roll backwards an inch, or sometimes even several yards. H-P Torque Arm Regulators were then introduced to the assembly - a small Isurium, ivory and cork cush-damping mechanism that overcame the "locking" tendency by allowing the brake cam to flip over completely in the event of a seizure - the momentary complete loss of braking used to take some riders by surprise, to the amusement of those of us "in the know", but lesser modern marques have derived vastly complex "ABS" systems which achieve no more, and often less.
[previous article][next article]
[HPO&EC home][The Fettler]